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Michael T. Klare's Posts

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The planet strikes back: Why we underestimate the Earth and overestimate ourselves

The Earth may look glum, but it's not to be messed with.Photo: John LeGearThis essay was originally published on TomDispatch and is republished here with Tom's kind permission. In his 2010 book Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet, environmental scholar and activist Bill McKibben writes of a planet so devastated by global warming that it's no longer recognizable as the Earth we once inhabited. This is a planet, he predicts, of "melting poles and dying forests and a heaving, corrosive sea, raked by winds, strafed by storms, scorched by heat." Altered as it is from the world …

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The collapse of the old oil order

No matter what comes of the protests in Iran, it's unlikely that the country's oil output will rise significantly.Photo: Hamed SaberThis essay was originally published on TomDispatch and is republished here with Tom's kind permission. Whatever the outcome of the protests, uprisings, and rebellions now sweeping the Middle East, one thing is guaranteed: The world of oil will be permanently transformed. Consider everything that's now happening as just the first tremor of an oilquake that will shake our world to its core. For a century stretching back to the discovery of oil in southwestern Persia before World War I, Western …

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Rising commodity prices and extreme weather events threaten global stability

This essay was originally published on TomDispatch and is republished here with Tom's kind permission. Get ready for a rocky year. From now on, rising prices, powerful storms, severe droughts and floods, and other unexpected events are likely to play havoc with the fabric of global society, producing chaos and political unrest. Start with a simple fact: The prices of basic food staples are already approaching or exceeding their 2008 peaks, that year when deadly riots erupted in dozens of countries around the world. It's not surprising then that food and energy experts are beginning to warn that 2011 could …

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21st century energy superpower: China, energy, and global power

This essay was originally published on TomDispatch and is republished here with Tom's kind permission. If you want to know which way the global wind is blowing (or the sun shining or the coal burning), watch China. That's the news for our energy future and for the future of great-power politics on planet Earth. Washington is already watching -- with anxiety. Rarely has a simple press interview said more about the global power shifts taking place in our world. On July 20th, the chief economist of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Fatih Birol, told the Wall Street Journal that China …

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Four BP-style extreme energy nightmares to come

The Gulf nightmare.Photo: Department of EnergyThis essay was originally published on TomDispatch and is republished here with Tom's kind permission. On June 15, in their testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the chief executives of America's leading oil companies argued that BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was an aberration -- something that would not have occurred with proper corporate oversight and will not happen again once proper safeguards are put in place. This is fallacious, if not an outright lie. The Deep Horizon explosion was the inevitable result of a relentless effort to extract …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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A new oil rush endangers the Gulf of Mexico and the planet

The oil spill viewed from NASA’s Terra satellite on May 17.Photo: NASA's Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team Cross-posted from TomDispatch. Yes, the oil spewing up from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico in staggering quantities could prove one of the great ecological disasters of human history. Think of it, though, as just the prelude to the Age of Tough Oil, a time of ever increasing reliance on problematic, hard-to-reach energy sources. Make no mistake: we're entering the danger zone. And brace yourself, the fate of the planet could be at stake.  It may never be possible to pin …

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China’s global shopping spree: Is the world’s future resource map tilting East?

Cross-posted from TomDispatch. Think of it as a tale of two countries. When it comes to procuring the resources that make industrial societies run, China is now the shopaholic of planet Earth, while the United States is staying at home. Hard-hit by the global recession, the United States has experienced a marked decline in the consumption of oil and other key industrial materials. Not so China. With the recession’s crippling effects expected to linger in the U.S. for many years, analysts foresee a slow recovery when it comes to resource consumption. Not so China. In fact, the Chinese are already …

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Avatar: The Prequel

Cross-posted from TomDispatch. The anticipation may be building, but we’ll all have to wait for the 82nd Academy Awards on March 7th to find out just how many Oscars the global box-office smash Avatar will receive. That 3-D sci-fi spectacle, directed by James Cameron, has garnered nine nominations, including ones for Best Picture and Best Director, and it’s already overtaken Titanic, another Cameron global blockbuster, as the top money-maker in movie history.  But there’s an even bigger question absorbing Avatar’s millions of fans: What will Cameron, who has already indicated that he’s planning to write a novel based on Avatar, …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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The world in 2020: China, the U.S., the global South, and the planet

This was originally published on TomDispatch and is republished here with Tom's kind permission. As the second decade of the twenty-first century begins, we find ourselves at one of those relatively rare moments in history when major power shifts become visible to all. If the first decade of the century witnessed profound changes, the world of 2009 nonetheless looked at least somewhat like the world of 1999 in certain fundamental respects: the United States remained the world's paramount military power, the dollar remained the world's dominant currency, and NATO remained its foremost military alliance, to name just three. By the …

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Will Iraq be a global gas pump?

This guest essay was originally published on TomDispatch and is republished here with Tom's kind permission. ----- Has it all come to this? The wars and invasions, the death and destruction, the exile and torture, the resistance and collapse? In a world of shrinking energy reserves, is Iraq finally fated to become what it was going to be anyway, even before the chaos and catastrophe set in: a giant gas pump for an energy-starved planet? Will it all end not with a bang, but with a gusher? The latest oil news out of that country offers at least a hint …